TotalTV from dataxu is one of the most exciting ad-tech products to be released in years, effectively productising a solution the company already provides to Sky Media in the UK, where it is one of the core components of Sky AdVance. TotalTV is a media planning tool that takes several important strides towards where television needs to be. It supports audience-based buying (the targeting of consumers based on attributes that go way beyond demographics). It aggregates classic linear TV, set-top-box addressable TV, connected TV and other multiscreen inventory into a single pot. It enables media owners to help their clients create a unified media plan that combines all these inventory sources. And it supports unified cross-screen campaign management with ‘global’ frequency capping.
This is not the full extent of what TotalTV does. The dataxu solution, which was announced in April, enables a sales house to reach consumers in digital properties they do not own-and-operate, extending the potential reach when targeting a carefully defined audience group. This list of capabilities is underpinned by insights into the media consumers are being exposed to on different screens and, crucially, the ability to link devices – whether they are smartphones, tablets and laptops or smart TVs and set-top boxes – back to the same individual or household.
This identity management is provided by a dataxu product called OneView, which draws upon cookies, mobile IDs, IP addresses and other identifiers to build a full picture of individual consumers and their behaviour in the multiscreen universe. The result is what the company calls a ‘device graph’.
Dataxu harnesses a range of sources to work out what television or advertising we have seen. This can include set-top box data (provided by a platform operator) and smart TV viewing data, which is derived through automatic content recognition (and made available via smart TV ad-tech vendors).
By helping to unify media plans and provide a more holistic view of consumers, TotalTV makes a broadcaster or platform owner more useful to brand clients and agencies. Dataxu claims this solution increases advertising efficiency for buyers. It also improves yield for media owners while reducing ad loads for viewers, the company says.
One of the first things you can do with TotalTV is help agencies/clients to create a media plan based largely on classic linear TV, only with audience-based buying for a proportion of that linear TV. Audience-based buying looks beyond age and gender, which are of little value to some companies, like car makers (since everyone drives cars). The ability to target against additional attributes, like people who are known to be in-market, people whose car lease is about to expire or who drive a competitive brand, is very valuable in these instances.
The planning process includes forecasts of where an advertiser’s prospective customers could be watching and when, on classic linear TV. TotalTV can harness its knowledge of which channels perform well for certain kinds of consumer. There is guidance about the volume of inventory that matches this specific campaign’s requirements, and how many people in the target audience you are likely to reach. The classic linear TV is then bought in the normal way, as a channel buy or against day-parts, for example.
If necessary, you can layer more inventory sources into the media plan. As Chris LaHaise, Director of TV Solutions at dataxu, explains, you can achieve a certain level of reach with audience-based linear buying, but some of the target audience will be missed because they are not tuning into the right channel at the right time to see the ad, especially if they are light TV users who only watch a few shows a week.
To reach these occasional viewers on a television set you can introduce household-level addressable TV advertising (which today means through a Pay TV operator set-top box) or targeted advertising via a connected TV device (smart TV, streamer box, etc.).
As LaHaise points out, if you have the right to serve addressable ads into channels, you can ensure that someone who tunes-in only twice a week can be served an advertisement from a selected campaign. This boosts reach for the advertiser. (Media companies offering household-level addressable TV advertising say it is a cost-effective way to achieve incremental reach).
TotalTV can also help a sales house reach consumers who have slipped off the radar because they are watching on connected TV devices. These people include cord-cutters. “We can find someone who has stopped subscribing to Pay TV but is still ‘tuning into’ television via a connected TV or other OTT platforms,” LaHaise notes.
Once again, the big win for the advertiser is incremental reach. “Incrementality is a really strong use-case for this product,” LaHaise says. “You can give advertisers reach rather than more frequency.”
Addressable TV inventory is controlled by a platform owner or broadcaster sales house. Connected TV avails may not be. Thus, the addition of connected TV inventory to the media plan is not only an example of unified planning, but a case of ‘audience extension’. This is where the media sales house helps the advertiser to find its target consumer in third-party inventory, extending its role beyond its owned-and-operated properties.
Because TotalTV (and the OneView ID management system that underpins it) gives the media owner visibility into the digital world (and links into the DSPs to execute campaigns there) audience extension can also be applied to brand-safe, quality video served by newspaper sites or fashion magazines, etc.
Across all these different inventory sources, TotalTV allows the media sales house to manage frequency. This is one of the most important goals in multi-platform marketing today because the proliferation of devices means that if you serve ads to device IDs you think are relevant, you could end up serving the same ad to the same person on their smartphone, tablet, laptop and smart TV.
That increases frequency but not reach, while widespread over-exposure can undermine campaigns. (Even a modest over-delivery is a waste once you have passed the point of optimum exposure that is supposed to generate some behavioural change).
LaHaise notes: “An advertiser may set a limit of one ad in one hour for one particular household. We have to know where people have seen the ad so we do not show it again. You have to understand which devices exist within the ‘sphere of influence’ of one person. I may have five devices that are touch-points, but you must understand that I am the unit [of consumption]. That is what we provide [via OneView within TotalTV] – identification of the people who are consuming the content.”
Dataxu combines various data sources to support frequency capping. The company forecasts the likelihood that someone is exposed to a classic linear TV ad, based on the same media planning that projects where you will find viewers at a given time. If classic linear TV forms the bulk of the plan, these predicted exposures effectively become your basepoint figure for frequency management.
On owned-and-operated digital properties (belonging to the media company), dataxu knows if someone has been served an ad in real-time (because it serves the ads). There is also real-time feedback on whether an ad has been served to a third-party digital property. Dataxu receives detailed data about ad viewing- those that were started and how much of the advertisement people watched (quartiles and full completions).
Viewing of addressable TV ads on set-top boxes is recorded by the platform operator but data is not returned until 2-4 weeks after a campaign ends. Dataxu knows then which households saw the ads (with data shared in a privacy-compliant manner using safe-havens). This addressable exposure information can still be used for attribution.
Dataxu has been working with Sky Media for two years and as you can see here, Sky AdVance provides visibility across TV and digital and the ability to unify different inventory sources within the same campaign, including across both owned and third-party digital properties. Sky has a clear strategy to move itself up the value-chain and, as we reported previously, the company wants to make itself indispensable to cross-platform advertisers.
“We have helped them create a picture of where viewers are,” LaHaise says, talking about the Sky Media deployment. “We are a contributing member of the team that helped build that solution.”
It is the work that dataxu put into Sky AdVance that is now being productised with TotalTV. The solution is being aimed at platform operators with their own sales house (like Sky Media) and at broadcasters/programmers. The focus is on companies who have classic linear TV to build a media plan around. LaHaise says there has been strong interest in TotalTV in the two months since its release.
“It provides a better opportunity to monetise your own inventory thanks to the use of more data. It gives you a better idea of where your viewers are. You get a more rounded knowledge about the connected device universe, so you can reach consumers across more than the TV screen,” LaHaise summarises.
Jamie West, Deputy Managing Director at Sky Media UK, who is also Group Director of Advanced Advertising for Sky (Plc) is quoted in a dataxu white paper on advanced advertising, saying: “TV advertisers want to invest in high quality, curated TV content, but also realise the benefits of digital targeting and scale.” In April he revealed that Sky has used TotalTV for hundreds of video ad campaigns, with advanced audiences, over two years. West then declared: “This is the future of TV.”
Dataxu has revealed to Videonet that it is working on an innovation project to create a version of TotalTV that agencies or brands could use. It would harness the same core technology to help users to maximise reach with their media plans and seek cost-effective incremental reach. The plans would then be executed via their broadcast partners or directly into the digisphere.
One of the major benefits of this solution, whether it is used on the supply-side or buy-side, which is worth emphasising again, is the way it unifies multiple inventory sources in the same plan. This is aligned with advertising industry wishes to normalise advanced advertising more generally.
Last September we reported how Finecast, the GroupM subsidiary, had been tasked with making it easier to plan and execute addressable TV advertising for its clients. The over-arching ambition is to create a single buying-point that reaches into addressable inventory from every broadcaster on every platform. That initiative covers targeting to every TV screen, including connected TV.
You can read a list of the value-adds that Finecast wants to give the buy-side, in the same story. This amounts to an advertiser birthday wish-list. TotalTV helps tick a number of the boxes.
“This is not about connected TV as one single opportunity and addressable as a single opportunity. These are incorporated into the same plan, and you can see how much should be invested in them,” LaHaise confirms. “Yes, we are helping to create a single pot for inventory and audience-buying.”